Connect with us

Star Blog

Taking Aim at the Dallas Cowboys 53 Man Roster

John Williams

Published

on

Giants at Cowboys Trash Talk Begins With Janoris Jenkins, Dez Bryant

There is a lot that still needs to happen before the Dallas Cowboys' 53 man roster takes shape in early September, but with all of the pieces added, there is a lot to like about how the roster may shape up at the end of preseason.

Because of my personality, I like to look at the possibilities. Well here is a possible outcome for the 53 man roster, as we sit in May.

Offense (23)

Quarterback (2)

While many would like to see another name sitting behind Dak Prescott on the depth chart, it's unlikely that will happen, barring another training camp injury to backup, Kellen Moore.

The coaching staff likes Moore and the front office seems to like Moore as well, showing their comfort level as they were willing to head into the 2016 season with Moore as the backup.

This is one of those "In McClay we Trust" moments. They seem to like him, so let's roll with him. Hopefully he's never needed anyway.

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 4

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys rushes the ball during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Running Back (5)

  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Darren McFadden
  • Rod Smith
  • Keith Smith
  • Jahad Thomas

Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden's roles are clearly delineated. Elliott is the work-horse three-down back, and McFadden is the versatile backup who can spell Elliott on early downs as well as passing downs.

Rod Smith's presence on the roster will not surprise me when it happens. He plays on special teams and is a good power runner who can be used in short yardage situations.

Keith Smith is the team's fullback. Years of trying to use a tight end to play fullback are gone as Smith has now cemented his place in the offense, even if he's isn't used very much. 

Absent is any kind of "scat back" that fans love, which I think is a bit overrated.

Everyone would love to have a Darren Sproles, James White, or Dion Lewis type of back, the problem is those guys are hard to find. Darren Sproles may be the best at what he does, EVER. I'd honestly rather give passing game snaps to Elliott and McFadden who may not be as quick, but offer as much speed and more power than a Lance Dunbar type.

It's not unforeseeable that Ryan Switzer gets some of the Dunbar packages with his experience as a running back in high school.

Wide Receiver (5)

The three at the top are no surprise here. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley have solidified their status as the top receiving options for the team. Williams' blocking ability keeps him in the game and gives a boost to the run game.

Gone are Lucky Whitehead and Brice Butler with the additions of Switzer and 2017 7th round pick Noah Brown. Switzer will likely win the returner jobs, which leaves Whitehead's place on the team in question.

Butler is a good receiver, at times, but has also had some untimely drops.

While Brown is a project, he offers an immediate upgrade in his blocking ability and his toughness and physicality could be used on special teams. Brown can be used in the same role that Vince Mayle was called up for in 2016: the big blocking wide receiver.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp 4

Dallas Cowboys Rico Gathers (80) participates in a drill during rookie mini-camp at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch in Irving on Saturday, May 7, 2016. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Tight End (3)

  • Jason Witten
  • Rico Gathers
  • Geoff Swaim

I'm going a bit long here at tight end because I don't think the team will be able to sneak Rico Gathers to the practice squad if he isn't ready to take a regular spot on the game day roster.

Jason Witten is the TE1 until someone takes his job, which isn't likely in 2017.

James Hanna and Geoff Swaim both offer good depth and run game blocking ability. I think the team wouldn't mind going long to keep both of them if Gathers' blocking ability isn't ready to go. If it is, one of these two won't make it. I'm thinking Hanna, who could also be a PUP candidate to start the year much like Darren McFadden and his NFI stint in 2016.

Offensive Line (9)

The biggest question with this group is where La'el Collins will play. He figures to start at either left guard or right tackle, but at the moment, that is an unknown. The Cowboys seem to be trying to find their best five players on the line. That could mean Jonathan Cooper becomes the starting left guard because Collins is the best right tackle option.

Byron Bell will be on the roster because he is a veteran presence that can play multiple spots on the offensive line.

If Chaz Green isn't the starting right tackle then he will serve as the swing tackle again this year. Emmett Cleary serves as more tackle depth with Green's injury history.

Cowboys en Español:

Sep 3, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Taco Charlton (33) rushes on Hawaii Warriors offensive lineman RJ Hollis (74) at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Defense (26)

Defensive Line (9)

Taco Charlton has a real shot to be a day-one starter, but on which side of the defensive line? That is a big question heading into OTAs. The team loves him, but where does he fit?

Charles Tapper is another Jaylon Smith story. Got a redshirt year his rookie season and appears to be healthy and has slimmed down a bit to get ready to play the right defensive end spot. He'll have to get back into game shape, but could be an enormous addition to the defensive line rotation.

Outside of Stephen Paea and Cedric Thornton -- who are best utilized as 1-technique tackles -- and Maliek Collins at 3-technique, the rest of the defensive line group seems to be able to line up in several places.

Several guys found their stride at times last season like David Irving, Benson Mayowa, and Collins. The hope is they will take another step forward.

It seems like they have the depth now at defensive end that they can move Tyrone Crawford back to 3-technique. While he was effective at end, his best position is inside.

Linebacker (6)

Sean Lee made his first trip to the Pro Bowl last year and received a 1st team All-Pro award for his work on the weak side of the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 scheme. Talent has never been the issue with Lee, it was always health. Last year he had some luck in the health department and we got to see his talent over a full 16 games. Perfect fit on the weak side.

Jaylon Smith might be the most eagerly awaited debut of any defensive player we have drafted since DeMarcus Ware. If he is healthy, he will be the starter in the middle and after reading Staff Writer Kevin Brady's scouting review, we are going to love what he brings to the defense.

That leaves the strong side linebacker spot to be battled over in camp and throughout the season. Damien Wilson was very effective over there, but the team will also give Anthony Hitchens a shot as well.

While six linebackers may not be enough, let's not forget that Keith Smith has some experience there and could provide depth if needed. Your seventh linebacker is probably around for special teams play, which the team can get from Keith Smith, Rod Smith, and Robert Blanton.

Anthony Brown

Cornerback (6)

Count me as someone who didn't see a need to go defensive back in the first round during the draft. I thought that Nolan Carroll's addition equated that of Brandon Carr, with a bit more turnover potential, and Anthony Brown was a player to watch to take another step forward. Orlando Scandrick was going to be another year removed from his injury and better prepared for the season.

While they didn't invest a first round pick, they certainly invested heavily at cornerback during the draft.

Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were added to the cornerback group and both have a shot at significant playing time as soon as week one.

While I think it's more likely that Carroll and Brown are your week one starters on the outside and Scandrick in the slot, training camp competition could certainly change all of that. Awuzie and Lewis both have tremendous ability and can contribute right away. The question is will the coaching staff and front office be willing to give two rookies significant playing time week one and let them grow?

I could see a scenario where Scandrick is a camp casualty because of the play of Lewis and Awuzie. If both show they are ready to go, Scandrick, at his advanced age for a cornerback, could be on the way out as the team gets younger.

Marquez White offers very intriguing athleticism and length that I would like to keep on the active roster and develop. Especially if the team releases Scandrick, White becomes depth on the outside.

Safety (5)

Byron Jones is entrenched as the starter at one of the safety spots. Because they like to use a rotation, there will be plenty of snaps for Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier, on defense as well as special teams.

Robert Blanton figures to be depth and he'll add to special teams while providing some veteran depth in case the younger guys don't hold up to the pressures of starting at safety opposite Jones. The hope is that through competition, the cream will rise to the top and they will be able to replace Barry Church's production over the last few years.

Heath and Woods have shown a penchant for creating turnovers and making plays on the football, which is something this Rod Marinelli defense has been missing.

Awuzie's ability to also play safety allows Dallas to only carry four players here.

Cowboys Headlines - Martin's 5: K Dan Bailey Might Be Cause For Conservative Cowboys Coaching

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) celebrates with his teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. The Cowboy defeated the Redskins 19-16. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Special Teams (3)

  • Dan Bailey
  • Chris Jones
  • L.P. Ladouceur

There will be camp bodies at each of these positions, but this group is set. They've been good to great at what they do.

Where did I go wrong? Where did I go right? Let me know below. 



Dallas Cowboys optimist brining factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Advertisement
4 Comments
  • DoubleCraven

    Jaylon Smith might be the most eagerly awaited debut of any defensive player we have drafted since DeMarcus Ware” I’d say drafting Claiborne at #6 made him pretty eagerly awaited too. People thought he was going to be the second coming of Deon….regardless of how he turned out.

    • John Williams

      Perhaps it’s recency bias and the nature of Twitter in 2017, but the hype over the last year has grown to tremendous levels.

      • DoubleCraven

        No doubt, You would have thought Ray Lewis and Mike Singletary had a love child and named him Jaylon.

  • JT

    one less running back/fullback and put butler back in at wide receiver

Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

Published

on

Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Published

on

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The Dak Stats

Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.

Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.

When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.

Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.

Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.

Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.

Questions Still Loom

This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.

But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -167
  2. Dallas Cowboys +350
  3. New York Giants +650
  4. Washington Redskins +750

NFC East Week 1 Predictions

The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.

The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.

The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.

The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.

This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending